Apps that we use in our smart phones are integral to the functioning of smartphones, and are the major elements for the interface design and functionality. While smartphone users intuitively use Apps, there are multiple symbol-making processes that take place as one is interacting with a smartphone application. To start with: clicking on a single button on a smart phone accesses apps. This process is made intuitive through a text with a name of the app, and a graphic design that further communicates the functionality of an app. The apps are tiled in the smartphone’s interface. This tile design suggests a modular structure: Apps are modules for accessing software.
In terms of functionality, Apps provide access to software that was designed by employment of human cognition. Therefore, “Apps” are interfaces that allow access. Framing Apps as interfaces allows us to further discern the software technology behind them. The interface stands for access to the app. Another dimension of apps is that they are embedded in the smartphones regardless of Internet access: They are mobile technologies, and are characterized by their integration to multiple devices.
Considering the softwares of Applications, defining the symbolic interaction as the interaction between the mobile phone’s screen to a person’s cognition will be limited, and won’t cover all aspects of the symbolic interaction. Pierce mentions an “object” (Chandler, 2007) when he describes the semiotic process, and employs a directional understanding to explore how meaning is generated. Similarly, Saussure mentions a “signified.” (Saussure, 2011) Saussure’s idea of the signified is more explanatory in terms of referring to the mental image and abstraction that takes place during symbol-making, yet these two models of sign making are not comprehensive enough to cover all aspects. Apps are interfaces that enable access to employed human cognition, and extends human cognition by providing cognitive tools for functioning.
De Saussure, F. (2011). Course in general linguistics. Columbia University Press.
Chandler, D. (2007). Semiotics: the basics. Routledge.